5 Actions to Shop Ethical and Sustainable
Posted on April 30 2019
I had the intention to post a blog leading up to Fashion Revolution Week early April, but life happened, so unfortunately it didn't happen. In any case, the most important aspect of the Fashion Revolution to me is that it is a year-round movement I am very passionate about!
The Fashion Revolution is a global movement that sparked in April 2013 when the Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh, killing over 1,100 people and injuring hundreds more. On the week of the anniversary, "we campaign for a fashion industry that conserves and restores our environment and gives people, especially women, a voice. An industry where dignity in work is the standard and not an exception."
If you have officially joined or are curious about the Fashion Revolution, here are some tips for actions you can take to shop ethically and sustainably. One of the most common questions I get asked is: "where do I start?!"
1. Materials Matter
- Avoid buying new clothing made from synthetic fibres such as polyester, nylon and lycra. These materials are made from things like petroleum and plastics, and take 20-200+ years to biodegrade!
- Invest in more natural and organic fibres such as cotton, linen, hemp, and eucalyptus. Plant fabrics are naturally antimicrobial and antibacterial, good for thermal regulation, and breathable!
- Help keep pollution out of our land and water by supporting brands made from recycled materials such as recycled plastic, cotton and polyester.
2. Care Where Your Clothes Come From
- Support brands committed to fair labor and sustainability. Do they talk about why ethics and sustainability are important to them and what they are doing about it?
- Questions to ask: where are their products sourced and made, are they transparent about their sourcing and manufacturing, do they participate in campaigns like The Fashion Revolution?
- Support local, including made in Canada and the US. If the garment is made abroad, look at that brands website to see where the clothing is made, and what their stand is on ethics and sustainability. There are many brands that do ethically produce overseas, they will usually feature more about their supply chain, manufacturing, factories on their website and social media.
- From thrift stores, to vintage and consignment shops, there are many awesome ways to find good quality second hand staples for your closet. Not only do you lower your environmental impact but it’s is a way to get something others may not have, curating your own unique style, with the added positives for our environment and supporting local and small businesses.
- Food for Thought: It’s estimated that around 30% of all clothes made are never sold. The fashion industry has created 92 million tons of textile waste and 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases emitted from textiles production (more than international flights and maritime shipping combined).
4. Buy Less and Choose Well
- Invest in high quality pieces and ditch fast fashion. About half of all clothing purchases are discarded in less than a year. Landfills burn the equivalent of one garbage truck full of garments each and every second. That’s crazy! Being a conscious consumer means you can have pieces you truly love and you can feel good about where they came from.
- Take care of your clothes and don’t throw clothes away! 95% of textiles can be recycled, even stained, ripped, un-wearable clothes (check out Clothing for a Cause). Also mend and repair your clothes! We all need to get out of the throw away mindset created by the fast fashion industry, and be responsible citizens, for the health of our planet. (check out the Assemble Workshop)
6. Bonus: Be Curious. Find Out. Do Something.
- Our Mantra for Fashion Revolution Week 2019. Check out websites and apps like Fashion Revolution, Good on You, The Good Trade, for more information, resources, and articles on ethical and sustainable fashion.
- As the owner of a small private label, I can visit my factory in Los Angeles, where all the magic happens, but for large companies, their products are often made all over the world. Luckily there are accountability initiatives companies can invest in and now you can be on the look out if the brand you support is responsible and working toward high ethical labor standards and sustainability in their supply chain
- Look out for certifications and registrations with entities such as: Bluesign Technologies, Sustainable Apparel, Coalition (SAC), Canopy, Responsible Sourcing Network, Better Work.
- For instance, the Bluesign Standard sets up management systems for improving environmental performance, so hazardous chemicals are kept to a minimum during manufacturing and in the end product.
These tips are not meant to say chuck everything in your closet and start over. Love and care for what you have, gradually and responsibly let go of what no longer serves you (hint hint - consignment and donate to awesome local organizations). Don’t simply throw garments away, that also can have a negative effect on our planet. As a sustainable living advocate, I want to encourage both conscious consuming and discarding, and supporting brands and businesses that are creating positive alternatives. When we know better, we can do better, and together we can continue to make a difference around the globe to demand the fair treatment of people who make our products, support our planet, our local economies and small businesses.
Reach out if you have any questions or curiosities and also don’t be shy about asking brands questions! That’s how change will happen! During Fashion Revolution Week, we use the hash tag #whomademyclothes and it became the top trending Twitter hashtag in 2018 at the time! What we are asking is for brands to be transparent about their supply chain and labor conditions, and encourage shifts to protect people working in the fashion industry and our planet!